Every parent wants the best for their child. We want to raise our kids as strong adults capable of leading happy lives with good moral standing. However, this requires we teach our kids the importance of recognizing their emotions and expressing their feelings in healthy ways. Read on to find out how to raise emotionally intelligent children as it is mandatory for developing great relationships.
“Emotional intelligence begins to develop in the earliest years. All the small exchanges children have with their parents, teachers, and with each other carry emotional messages.” – Daniel Goleman
What kind of child do you want to raise?
Parenting and raising a child who grows up to have deep emotional intelligence starts with you, their parent.
What kind of child do you want to raise? How are you living that life as an adult right now?
Take this important piece of parenting advice: We can not give our kids something that we do not have.
I can not expect my kids to have control of their phone usage if I don’t have control of my phone usage. I can’t expect my kids to try new things if I don’t try new things. I can’t expect my kids to choose foods that are helpful for their bodies if I don’t choose foods that are helpful for my body.
When I look in the mirror, am I the adult I’m trying to raise my child to be? I often ask myself, “What do I want for my kids in a year? Five years? Ten years? How am I modeling that as a parent or adult in this world?”
I can not teach my kids how to regulate their emotions if I don’t know how to regulate my own. The better I care for myself and my mental, emotional, and physical health, the better my kids will be able to care for theirs. In order for your kids to be emotionally intelligent, you need to be emotionally intelligent, yourself.
What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and how do you achieve it so your kids can model your behavior? Psychology Today defines it as “the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.”
Look in the mirror.
In order for our kids to be able to process their emotions from a strong, empowered place, we parents have to know how to do that. So, if you’re anything like me, I didn’t know how to manage my own emotions in effective, healthy ways. I certainly knew how to manage my emotions in ineffective and unhealthy ways such as overeating, drinking, blaming others, and procrastinating.
I also tried to manage my emotions by trying to control what happened ahead of time so I wouldn’t feel difficult emotions. (Spoiler Alert: This isn’t possible)
I approached parenting from a place of control, thinking I could somehow control their experiences so they’d never feel difficult emotions (and thus, neither would I). I tried to control my kids’ experiences (helicopter mama-extraordinaire) while also trying to control how everyone felt in the process.
At some point, I realized that not only was it impossible to control others, but it also made me one anxious, overstrung mom.
“I call the parents who get involved with their children’s feelings “Emotion Coaches.” Much like athletic coaches, they teach their children strategies to deal with life’s ups and downs. They don’t object to their children’s displays of anger, sadness, or fear. Nor do they ignore them. Instead, they accept negative emotions as a fact of life.” – John M. Gottman, Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child
There were two truths I had overlooked:
1. I can not control other people’s thoughts
I could not make my kids think of certain things so that they would feel certain ways. Even if I cleared their paths so their lives were pretty drama-free, they still could choose thoughts that would cause them to feel difficult emotions.
Remember, the Thought Model — it’s their thoughts that create their feelings, not the things that happen in their lives.
2. Everyone faces adversity
Thriving, confident young adults do not emerge from childhoods of having everything handed to them on silver platters and with no adversity. Look around at the people you admire.